Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 20, 2019

This Land

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology — louisproyect @ 2:23 pm


Christopher Ketcham’s “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption are Ruining the American West” is a politically explosive and beautifully written chronicle of the ongoing struggle to preserve publicly owned land in the West. This is home to iconic endangered species such as the grizzly bear, the wolf, and the wild horse. Much of the left is rightfully fixated on the horrifying prospects of Bolsonaro giving the green light to ranchers, miners, oil companies and farmers to ravage the Amazon rainforest. Now it is time that we took a stand against the same kind of devastation taking place on American soil. If it was up to Donald Trump and the “liberal” Democrats like Obama who paved the way for him, all of the land that had been protected under successive presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon (yes, that’s right) will face the same fate.

In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt persuaded Congress to set aside such land for public ownership, “socializing” it in effect. Under the aegis of the Forest Service, millions of acres were to be protected from profit-seeking enterprises with exceptions made for raising cattle but under strict limits. Despite his wanton appetite for shooting large animals (shared by Ernest Hemingway), Roosevelt was so alarmed by the loss of wilderness that he would write these prescient words: “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”

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  1. Excellent post, Louis. The BLM now has a motto: Land of Many Uses. Indeed. Cattle grazing, logging, mining, all of which involve private entities using public lands for next to nothing. The ruination is there for all to see, as is the destruction of nature by tourists, jeeps, ATVs, even planes and helicopters.

    As for the Mormons, here is something I wrote. They weren’t always destroyers of Mother Earth. Mormons even established a communist society in Orderville, Utah. Mike Davis has some interesting things to say about the Mormon working class in places like Boron, California site of a militant strike not that long ago.


    Comment by Michael D Yates — September 20, 2019 @ 7:05 pm

  2. Sportsman are the reason wild animals still thrive across America. Coastal latte sipping liberals who fawn over seeing a bird in their filthy urban hellholes while they sip their lattes have never done a thing except create pollution. Every effective move to defend public land and habitat in America for the last 2 centuries has come from sportsman who hunt and fish.

    When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.5 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of dedicated work, that number has hit an historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. The foundation of NWTF’s success? Standing behind science-based conservation and hunters rights.

    Comment by William Wazinski — September 21, 2019 @ 4:39 am

  3. My review did not target hunting. It target ranching. But thanks for your opinion, even if it is beside the point.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 21, 2019 @ 1:14 pm

  4. The true number of turkeys in the USA is closer to 250 million. These Turkey are in some senses exceptional. They can even fly across the Atlantic and land in the old world.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — September 21, 2019 @ 7:55 pm

  5. @Wazinski comment: hunting defenceless animals for food or pleasure is not a sport of any kind. Stop defending it.

    Comment by srhope1989outlookcom — September 22, 2019 @ 8:52 am

  6. srhope1989outlookcom, To begin with, animals are not defenseless. That’s just silly. You’re right though: Hunting for food is not a sport, just as growing vegetables in a garden is not a sport. It’s a means of acquiring food that does not rely on the capitalist marketplace. Meat wrapped in styrofoam and plastic is not for everyone.

    Comment by Robert Green — September 22, 2019 @ 11:57 am

  7. “He and the environmental activists he has befriended and written about for a decade embody an ethos that must be embraced by humanity if we have any chance of surviving.”

    You don’t know the history of some of the capitalist colluding groups because CK chose of omit facts relevant for you to assess them. How?

    “Through direct payments from extractive industries in the form of legal settlements to not litigate public lands environmental issues, like the Western Watersheds Project, Advocates West and the Oregon Natural Desert Association in 2011 accepting $24 million from a fossil fuel company to not litigate the Ruby natural gas pipeline that drains the Intermountain fracking fields and cuts the heart out of the sagebrush steppe like the Glen Canyon Damn to the Colorado Plateau – now threatening extension to Jordan Cove, OR for climate busting export to Asia. You will not find such information disclosed in Ketcham’s book because he made a conscience decision to not do so, shielding the narrative of his protagonists antagonizing sagebrush steppe compromise with far reaching consequences.”

    “A Review of Ketcham’s This Land” by Chris Zinda https://link.medium.com/Vviakmbla0

    CP wouldn’t pub my review, protecting the “grass roots rad” enviro myth and echochamber.

    Comment by Chris Zinda — September 22, 2019 @ 2:58 pm

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